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Web giants invest in the ethics of AI

Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and Apple launched the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society in September 2016. The stated goal: to anticipate fears related to the development of artificial intelligence (AI) in the general public.

This new partnership aims to promote responsible and safe AI practice. It supports open research, recommends best practices, and publishes open-source work on topics such as ethics, transparency, privacy, interoperability, and collaboration between people and artificial intelligence systems. The signatories “will seek to ensure that AI technologies benefit the greatest number,” reads on its website . They pledge to proscribe artificial intelligence that would be “contrary to international conventions on human rights”.

With a budget of $ 27 million, the Board of Directors brings together 6 representatives from the 6 founders but also 6 independent directors. These include academics, non-governmental organizations, and ethics and public affairs experts : OpenAI, Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence & ASU, University of California at Berkeley, American Civil Liberties Union MacArthur Foundation and Peterson Institute of International Economics. The founders indicate that this partnership is not intended to lobby government agencies or other decision-making bodies.

Research institutes and think tanks on artificial intelligence

This type of partnership is not new, but impresses with the economic weight of the six founders. At the end of 2015, Elon Musk, President of Tesla and SpaceX (absent from this new partnership) co-founded OpenAI a research charity to develop an artificial intelligence “open source” beneficial to humanity. Note also the existence of the Institute on the Future of Humanity , the Institute of the Future of Life , the Institute for Research on the Intelligence of Machines. Moreover, the University of Singularity was founded and financed by an impressive list of manufacturers, among which are Google, Nokia, LinkedIn, NASA.

Opinion of the expert Jean-Gabriel Ganascia, researcher in artificial intelligence at Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University

There is a paradox in the attitude of the giants of the web. On the one hand, they employ a lot of researchers in their own laboratories to develop artificial intelligence for reasons related to their work. Web 2.0 uses data to refine product offerings, target different potential customers, and detect dissatisfaction to address them. At the same time, these companies warn us that this is dangerous. These major players announce that they will help overcome difficulties through ethics committees. It is paradoxical and terrifying since they themselves who are responsible for these major developments.

The Singularity is successful. There are institutes, research projects that are funded by these major players. For example, Raymond Kurzweil has been employed by Google as Scientific Director since December 2012.

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